MARIETTA, Oh.-(WTAP) Update: 1/26/2017
Volunteer fire chiefs are speaking out about the departure of Washington County's emergency management director, and the hiring of his permanent replacement.
In some ways, it's not about the current issue, but one that went public more than two years ago.
At that time, Sheriff Larry Mincks asked the commission to consider giving him oversight over the EMA.
While that did not happen, the Washington County Fire Chief's Association told the commission it is afraid the same process will play out again.
The commission assured the fire chiefs that whoever is the next EMA director, it will not come from the sheriff's office.
"This is all working around where the sheriff may not be able to come in the front door and say, 'I'm going to take over supervising if you want me to'", said Association President Mark Wile "This is kind of a back door approach to it."
"There is not going to be a deputy sitting up there," countered Commission President Ron Feathers. "We did not even get an application or a resume from a deputy. And if we would, my opinion is, we would have kicked it out."
Former EMA director Jeff Lauer, who resigned recently at the request of the commission, was also a local fire chief.
A three-member committee was seated after the 2014 controversy, but association members claim it has not recently held a meeting, and has had little communication with the county.
The commission plans to review applications for the director's post next week.
Lauer supervised the purchase of some equipment when he was EMA director.
The volunteer chiefs told the commission whoever is chosen to fill that post, will need to know how that equipment is operated.
Washington County Commissioners are looking for a new leader-to handle incidents ranging from natural disasters to chemical emergencies.
The county's director of Emergency Management is now open-after longtime EMA director Jeff Lauer resigned this month, at the request of the county commission.
Commission President Ron Feathers says changes at the state level-ranging from grant writing to office management-prompted members to seek Lauer's resignation.
"We're looking for someone with good administrative skills," Feathers said Monday, "who are familiar with grants and good time management, and are able to write those grants and programs as the state requires."
Feathers says more than a dozen people applied for the job. That application deadline was last Friday.
The Washington County Fire Chiefs Association has expressed concerns about Lauer's departure and his possible replacement.
They plan to meet with the commission Thursday, to discuss those concerns.